SweCon 2004

A DS67 Away Mission Report

by Lance R. Casey


    During the summer of 2003, I received an e-mail from the president of the local Trek association, DQT, containing a message from Stockholm Trekkers, who wanted some input on a planned Swedish Star Trek convention – a thitherto unknown event. That survey resulted in SweCon 2004, a three-day convention in Stockholm, Sweden, with an extensive science-fiction program leaning heavily towards Star Trek.
    Provided that the pricing was to be reasonable, I had more or less decided to attend right from the start. When the event began to draw near, I found myself involved in the organizing as well, as a – oh yes – Klingon consultant. Here, then, is the story:

Thursday 19/8

Klingon Scrabble     I had arrived in Uppsala, the home of Zrajm C Akfohg from Klingonska Akademien, the night before. We had been enlisted to hold a number of Klingon-related events during the convention, so we thought it prudent to meet first. Extensive speaking and discussing of the Klingon language ensued; even though we probably can be bold enough to label ourselves skilled, speaking and hearing Klingon takes some getting used to, but once one gets going, it's a blast.
    A palpable result of my visit was the realization of a fully functional Klingon Scrabble game. Zrajm had gotten hold of the pieces list at a qep'a', and now the thing was finally made. The game proved to be quite playable, even though the "vowel sickness" sometimes was pressing – there are no Klingon words which start with a vowel, and very few end in one, so if you've only got vowels, you're fairly screwed. We did manage, however, to play the game through, leaving only one piece unplaced (and we had even forgotten to include the two blanks!).
    I won.

Friday 20/8

Borg cube     Through a highly hurried sequence of events, I managed to get from Uppsala to Stockholm central station, from the central station to a suburb subway station, from the subway station to lasertomten's residence, from the hallway to the shower, from the shower to the clean-clothes-bag, and finally via a number of transportational means to the site of the convention – pretty much in time for the launch at 17:00.
    No rest, however; the first Klingon language course (of six) was scheduled for 17:30. Zrajm handled that mostly by himself, but I sat in on it to observe. It turned out that the interest for those lessons was huge, and the preset limit of three persons per class was reached at high warp. We then decided to badger the hosts for additional time slots, which were finally granted by ways of absorbing some of the spacetime region freed by a late cancellation. The more Klingons, the... uh... more honorable.
    Following this, at 19:00, the official opening of the convention took place, presenting the guests of honor: Tim Russ, M. John Harrison and Dave Lally (the participation of Jeffrey Combs had unfortunately been postponed due to economical reasons).

Tim Russ 1   John Harrison 1   John Harrison 2
Tim Russ outside John Harrison inside John Harrison inside again
Dave Lally   Tim Russ 2   Tim Russ 3
Dave Lally inside Tim Russ inside Tim Russ inside again

    Immediately after that, the only physical instance of the movie Trekkies 2 within the borders of Sweden was shown. Neither I, Zrajm nor lasertomten was, however, able to see all of it, since the spot The Klingon Way of Life was to start at 21:00 – Zrajm and I being the ones supposed to conduct it, and lasertomten not wanting to miss a possible opportunity for the two of us to embarrass ourselves publically. This semi-impromptu lecture-cum-debate we had thrown together the night (and I do mean night) before, but it was apparently well received and did in fact spark a multitude of questions – one of which was the compulsory "Why do the TNG-onwards Klingons have stuff on their foreheads while the TOS ones don't?", which was duly answered by "It is a long story, and we don't discuss it with outsiders". All in all, we were quite satisfied.
    When that was over, there wasn't really anything that held lasertomten's and my interest, so we decided to leave the convention site in favor of wrestling with his computers.

Saturday 21/8

    The second day started, for our part, with a debate entitled Det ojämlika Star Trek ("The nonequal Star Trek"), which aimed to bring to the front the instances where our beloved show, despite the ever-present IDIC ethic, arguably fails to deliver equalitarian views. This premise was debated from several views, including hetero/homo, male/female, human/alien and rich/poor. Needless to say, the outfit of Seven of Nine found its way into the discussion, wherein one of the panelists wondered why, when she is so efficiency-oriented, she's running around in high heels!

Debate 1   Debate 2
Equality panel Equality panel again

    The next stop was another debate called Ena Trekker-Sverige ("Unite Trekker-Sweden"), in which representatives from the three major Swedish Star Trek associations (WCT, TSS and Stockholm Trekkers) gave their views on how to create, or at least promote, a more Trek-friendly environment in Sweden. Compared to, for instance, Germany or Italy, this country is appallingly destitute when it comes to matters Trek, so there is a general consensus that something needs to be done in order for Swedish Trekdom to lead a worthwhile existence in the future. As usual in matters like these, the immediate plan seemed to be confined to "we'll continue to talk", but at least there is an incentive. We'll see – and this (first!) Star Trek convention is certainly a step in the right direction; even the media seemed somewhat interested.
    Another debate: Levande Rymdskepp ("Living Spaceships"). The panel moderator had categorized such entities into three classes:

  1. Artificial Intelligence ships
  2. Cyborg ships, where a human mind controls a technological kilometer-long "body"
  3. Biological ships, actual creatures germinated for the purpose of space travel

Argument ensued. The panel also noted that there has been a trend lately in science-fiction, both written and otherwise, to employ living ships – one prime example being Farscape.
    Lots of debates today; the next one was Vart är Enterprise på väg? ("Where is Enterprise going?"), for which the subject ought to be obvious. Many different opinions were offered, most of which were variations of the theme "Enterprise is a good series, but..."; there did not seem to be any outright haters of the show in the room, and the general expectance regarding season 4 came across as positive. Suggestions for what should have been done, what should not have been done and what ought to be done next were put forward, and the panel agreed that, yes, Enterprise should also get a fifth season. Additionally, the future of the franchise itself was discussed and the audience was invited to provide ideas for new installments. These included time-cops (think Captain Braxton), mini-series series [sic] of various alien cultures and Starfleet Academy (an idea I personally find dreadful, but which did get quite a lot of support).

Debate 3   Debate 4
Living spaceships panel Enterprise panel

    The next spot for me was one of the extra Klingon classes, while lasertomten attended Den svåra konsten med uppföljare ("The hard art of sequels"). My students, two of which were Danish (all the others were of national residence), proved diligent and most interested – even the trickier parts of the pronunciation (and there are a few) went well. majQa'!
    Next up: a debate! Oh yes. Bearing the name of Tidsresor i Star Trek ("Time-travel in Star Trek"), this one quickly concluded by ways of an instant poll that Star Trek and time-travel are quite inseparable – if there were any who didn't vote in favor of TT, I didn't see them. Different kinds of TT were discussed, as well as both the possibilities and pitfalls of the story cornucopia it provides.
    Then: pizza! Sitting outside the little pizza place right across the square (they probably saw a sharp increase in business that weekend), we fought legions of wasps zooming in on our drinks (I think three actually managed to drown themselves in mine), while lasertomten struggled with pieces of meat having the consistency of the rugs he sells. After that, we caught a couple of episodes in the mini-cinema (EFC: The Secret of Strand Hill and VOY: Meld), while waiting for...
    ...the next Klingon class. batlh majatlh!
    Finally, a rush to the Event of the Evening: Tim Russ's concert! The theater was packed with people, the mood was high, the music good, the starship on fire, the artist happy... He was applauded back onto the stage twice. What more can you ask for? Right, pictures and sound files:

Tim Russ 4   Tim Russ 5   Tim Russ 6
Flash + smoke = bad idea Manual settings = good idea Oh, right; Tim Russ on stage
Tim Russ 7   Tim Russ 8   Tim Russ 9
Tim Russ on stage again Yep, here too Once again...
Tim Russ 10   Tim Russ 11   Tim Russ 12
...and again... ...and yet again! (Care to take a guess?)
A piece of one of the songs
Some talk + another song excerpt
More talking
Even more talk + music
Another song bit
What a promise!
Can't get enough...
From a somewhat different song
Change of style again
Hmm, reminds me of CCR...
The End
DISC-LAMER: C'mon, would you seriously consider these very-low-quality things bootlegs?
I mean, what kind of a moron would actually prefer these highly partial (!) files to buying the CD?
Go buy the CD. It's worth it, I can tell you.

Sunday 22/8

    Tim Russ was delayed to the early photo/signing session, so lasertomten and I just, as the kids say, chilled out a bit. Then, however, we managed to get together with Moha, who was attending the convention's last day.
Market     While my two companions went off to acquire certain goods at different locations, I promptly walked off to the lecture called Relativitetsteori, och möjligheter att resa i tiden ("Relativity, and possibilities of time-travel"). The speaker concluded that, yes, it is entirely possible to travel through time under current physics – if you do it in the forward direction. Anyone with some understanding of relativity and specifically time dilation will know why. Conversely, it is also theoretically possible to go back in time, utilizing wormholes – although there are immense practical obstacles. Still, while we "cannae break the laws of physics, capt'n", TT as such is not ruled out by our present knowledge (neither is FTL, for that matter). No real news for me, but interesting nonetheless.
    Having been rejoined by Moha, we went back to the signing area, just in time for the next photo session, and lo!, suddenly we got to shake hands with a smiling Tim Russ in front of a professional camera. We may now claim full Trekker-ness by virtue of owning signed photos of ourselves sharing a bench with a Star Trek actor...

Lecture 1   Tim Russ 13   Tim Russ 14
Relativity/TT lecture Signed publicity picture Tim Russ & me + my ticket

    Feeling quite content about that, Moha and I went on to the spot called The worst sf movie ever shown, co-conducted by guest of honor Dave Lally. Who would have thought that there were so many facets to the concept of turkeys? Anyway, check out IMDb's Bottom 100 list for the answer given to the not-quite-a-question of the title. (Note to self: acquire Future War!)
    Moha and the newly returned lasertomten wanted to catch the second half of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, but I, being in possession of the Special Edition DVD of that movie (<shameless plug>bestowed upon me by Paramount for winning the Scandinavian section of Star Trek Guru 2003</shameless plug>), instead decided to attend the lecture The Future of Energy, which described the current state of the yet-to-be-attained functional fusion reactor.

Debate 5   Lecture 2
Worst sf movie panel Fusion lecture

    That lecture was fairly short, so I quickly moved on to the later parts of Var hittar vi morgondagens favoriter? ("Where do we find the favorites of tomorrow?"), featuring representatives from major Swedish media companies. This provided some insight into their acquiring process, thereby giving us a basis for understanding why our favorites may or may not be available nationally. One nice tidbit for us Swedes surfaced when the drama (the category Star Trek falls under) programme purchase chief of SVT fielded a question of old vs. new: there will be no repeats of earlier Star Trek series in the foreseeable future, because he has to choose what battles to fight, and his highest priority now is to ensure that the third season of Enterprise gets aired as soon as possible.
    Now, then, came the high-point (for us Trekkers) of the day: the interview with Tim Russ! It was conducted by Thomas Dahl, who asked him about everything from his childhood to (duh) Voyager, and different pictures from his earlier roles were shown. Tim also brought a video of an episode of the Art Police, which he co-produces and stars in. This show is about an agency which investigates crimes against good taste, and in the episode he showed, a porn star reported her director (played superbly by Ethan Phillips) because he insisted that she and her partner speak lines, instead of "doing what they should be doing"... It was quite funny!

  Tim Russ 15   Tim Russ 16   Tim Russ 17  
 Interviewer and interviewee Talkative "Um, tough question..." 
  Tim Russ 18   Tim Russ 19   Tim Russ 20  
 Previous colleagues "Once upon a time..." Genevieve Bujold in the back 
  Tim Russ 21   Tim Russ 22   Tim Russ 23  
 Standing up for himself... Reading aloud from his parody Is that fan mail? 
About growing up and his relation to his parents
About supporting himself as a fledgling actor
About working on Star Trek: Generations with William Shatner
About working on Star Trek: The Next Generation, in the episode 6x18 - Starship Mine
About Genevieve Bujold, originally cast as Janeway (laughter due to a picture of Margaret Thatcher mistakenly [?] shown)
About Ethan Phillips, who had passed on a greeting calling Tim a "gas-bag"
Cast list of the Starship Voyeur, a Star Trek: Voyager parody written by Tim himself
Excerpt from the above-mentioned parody

About Jolene Blalock as a Vulcan
"Don't you ever tire of doing this?"

Some other things Tim spoke about, as I remember (feel free to extend/amend!):

    Finally, there was the official closing ceremony, in which the organizing party thanked themselves, us and the guests of honor.

Tim Russ 24   Tim Russ 25   John Harrison 3
Tim Russ at the signing table Tim Russ thanked John Harrison thanked

    The three of us then went into the city to eat, although only two of us actually ingested food (don't ask). We then proceeded to lasertomten's apartment, where we performed wholly serious and important tasks (honest).

3 x Op
Moha, Lance and lasertomten, in all their glory
(note the package of O'boy in the background!)


    SweCon 2004 was, by all accounts, a very nice experience. The contrast to Creation Entertainment's huge get togethers (the first European of which lasertomten, Jim Profit and I visited early last year) was quite apparent – and, I must say, quite refreshing. The guests certainly seemed to enjoy the relaxed atmosphere, too. Good job, ladies and gentlemen (and distinctive members of transgendered species)!
    Now, next year's SweCon seems to again be veering away from Star Trek, but there were hints regarding a reprise of this convention type in 2006, again hosted by Stockholm Trekkers. So, see you there!

Over and out,
// Lance R. Casey